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Oral freshness, thanks to Aquafresh (and Helicopter Mom, of course)

April 2, 2015

As a hands-on and unashamed helicopter mom, I micromanage 30 fingernails, 30 toenails and 3 sets of 20 baby teeth.

This is a job I am proud of. I never outsource the cleaning and maintenance of these body parts of my children (well, almost never) and I wouldn’t even let the Kao kids independently handle them, especially when it came to teeth.

Here’s the reason why.

Children begin teething around six months of age. Most people know these teeth as baby teeth. By the time they are 3, children have 20 baby teeth – 10 on the top and 10 on the bottom. These teeth are destined to fall out, and would some day mark the beginning of yet another milestone of growing up. And my job, as I have taken it upon myself as my children’s mother – like a mission of some sort – is to make sure that this destiny arrives to greet them as late as possible. In other words, no tooth fairy visits before 6 years old at least.

Here’s how I do it.

1. Impose a candy quota

I used to terrorise my children with horror stories of how every candy they put in their mouth can hide well around their teeth, and then plaque comes and have a heyday. Now that they are older, the stories don’t seem to work so well anymore. Or rather, the temptation of a lolly outweighs the fear of plaque attack. But because they have been rather well-trained to always ask Mom for permission, I still get some control over how much sweet stuff they ingest. My general rule-of-thumb: vitamin gummies in the morning after breakfast, something sweet if the day is going to get them outdoors and active, and none at all if we’re cooped up at home. Sugar high, no thanks.

2. Load up on the calcium

When I was younger and when I felt that my adult teeth felt a little off (like when something was strangely shaky or unsettled), I would go eat lots of cheese.  Surprisingly, that worked for me. When I became a mom, I made sure cheeses, yogurt and milk feature a lot in the kids’ diet. They love their cheeses, they love their dairies. Thank God.

3. Use age-appropriate toothpaste

Not every toothpaste is created equal; some more equal than others. I used to be quite alarmed at how disparate the prices of toothpaste can get. One tube could cost $2.50 while another in a similar size but different brand could cost $15. And then I found out that it’s all in the ingredients.

After being a micromanager of teeth for the past few years and reading up on the relevant literature and research that’s got to do with children’s teeth, this is what I follow:

0-2 NO flouride, thank you very much. The kids, when they were infants, had their teeth cleaned with tooth wipes. When they started standing at the sink at age one-half, the toothpaste had to be safe to swallow.

2-4 Flouride ok, but kid must be able to spit. Spitting is a skill to master and they had better master it first. Toothpaste must also be very gentle to teeth.

5 onwards Gentle toothpaste with flouride but if there’s more foaming action, it would be better as that helps to keep their breath fresh.

4. Change their toothbrushes regularly

This is something I make sure happens every 3-4 months. I check for frayed bristles and make sure that the toothbrush shape, size and bristles are age-appropriate. Cartoon characters are optional, but I try to get them something that gets them excited about brushing. Which means the toothbrush had to move with what was hot favourite of the day: Spiderman, Barbie, Disney Cars…

5. Let them brush all they want, and then I do it again (and sometimes my helper)

While I do teach my children how to brush their teeth and allow them to do it on their own, there’s never such a thing in the house as you brush, you go. It’s always, you brush, you stay there and wait for Mama or Aunty to come brush for you AGAIN.  Because have you seen my kids brush their teeth? It’s like done in two seconds most of the time.

***

Recently, the Kao kids got really excited about brushing and started doing it close to four times a day, after every meal.

The morning and night brush is supervised still (as I have always insisted), but something is motivating them to brush their teeth without any adult nagging or resistance.

Enter Aquafresh.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_02

The “toothpaste with 3 stripes” has finally launched a brand new Aquafresh Kids range, catering to the oral care needs of children of different age groups  Thanks to the good folks at Aquafresh, the Kao kids received a new set of toothbrush and age-appropriate toothpaste, and quickly got to work testing them out.

I’m sure you can see their enthusiasm just by looking at those toothy grins.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_01

Reviewer: Nat
Using: Aquafresh First Teeth baby toothpaste (3 – 24 mths) + Milk Teeth toothbrush (0-2 years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_03

We’ve always been using this when the kids were babies, and I see now it has a new packaging. I hear this toothpaste has been out of stock globally a while back and is now finally back on shelves. It’s still apple-banana flavour and my cheeky son tells me it’s really nice jelly to swallow.

First Teeth Baby Toothpaste old packaging (Credit: Aquafresh)

First Teeth Baby Toothpaste old packaging (Credit: Aquafresh)

Aquafresh First Teeth baby toothpaste and Milk Teeth toothbrush are specially designed by dental experts to gently care for precious first teeth – just for 0 years to 2 years children. The First Teeth baby toothpaste is a toothpaste designed by dental experts to gently care for precious baby teeth and so help permanent teeth come through healthy and strong, and provides gentle cleaning with no abrasives, artificial colours or flavours. It is also fluoride-free so it is safe to swallow.

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Aquafresh_Kao Kids_05

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Nat liked it for old times’ sake – I’m sure he remembers this toothpaste which he’s been using, but he is now three and after a few days of using First Teeth, he requested for something minty, like big boys should.

And can I say I absolutely love the shape of the Milk Teeth toothbrush? I know he’s 3 already and I need to graduate him soon but it is oh-so-easy to maneuver in the insides of his mouth with this.

Reviewer: Becks
Using: Aquafresh Little Teeth products (3 – 5 years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_07

This girl is complaining her tooth is a little shaky – which is totally making me panic (she’s not 5 yet!) – and so I am making her take her toothbrushing very seriously. I have ordered that she be off the bottle (she loves her Milo in her bottle!) and let’s hope Aquafresh can help repair some damage. Apparently, by this age, the enamel which is now thinner makes her teeth more vulnerable to decay. And if they aren’t cared for, permanent teeth may not come through healthy and strong.

Aquafresh Little Teeth products are specially designed by dental experts to encourage healthy brushing habits and protect precious first teeth – just for kids 3 years to 5 years. Aquafresh Little Teeth toothpaste is a gentle cleaning fluoride toothpaste with sugar acid protection to care for those precious first teeth and helps permanent teeth come through steadily.

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_08

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_09

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She says, I like my toothbrush, it’s nice to hold and turn. My toothpaste is a little bit spicy but I can handle. 

I say, it would be nice to have some fruity flavours. Not many kids this age can take mint exploding in their mouths!

Reviewer: Ben
Using: Aquafresh My Big Teeth products (6+ years)

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_11

He’s just turned 6 and is entering into big boy zone now with primary one looming ahead and two shaky teeth, one on top and another at the bottom. Our dentist commented during our recent visit that he has really well maintained teeth, which made me beam like a proud mother while he sat on the dentist chair. I was so going to whisper that that’s the benefit he reaps from his mother micromanaging every friggin’ details of his teeth and oral hygiene since the day he had teeth, but decided to let him take the glory. After all, he always does one good first round of brushing before the adult comes to do the second.

Aquafresh My Big Teeth products are specially designed by dental experts to protect mixed adult and baby teeth. Mixed adult and first teeth also create awkward gaps which are hard to clean, creating “plaque traps.”  The child’s new adult teeth may look big and strong but the enamel on new teeth is more vulnerable to decay for several years. Aquafresh’s My Big Teeth is a toothpaste with foaming action (and sugar acid protection!) to help it get around the mouth whilst actively targeting softer enamel to keep it strong.

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And it is this “yummy, minty, clean-feeling” in the words of my eldest that makes him want to use keep using his toothpaste. This boy has been finding many excuses to brush food bits away since he got acquainted with Aquafresh’s My Big Teeth toothpaste. Never seen a more enthusiastic boy when it comes to oral hygiene.

With these children’s enthusiasm in brushing and keeping teeth clean, a host of value-for-money, specially designed oral products, and a micromanager-mom, these 3 sets of teeth should remain cavity-free for a long, long time.

Smile!

Aquafresh_Kao Kids_16

And if you’d like to have a reason to smile too, hashtag #AquafreshKidsSG with a video or photo of your child brushing his/her teeth with any Aquafresh Kids products on your personal Facebook or Instagram page. 10 selected winners with the most number of LIKES (across Facebook or Instagram) will win a one year supply of Aquafresh Kids products. Contest runs from 1 March to 30 April 2015 (Terms & Conditions apply).

Final

If you have trouble getting your kids excited about toothbrushing, get your kids to check out this app by Aquafresh called Brush Time. The Aquafresh Nurdle shows kids how to brush their teeth using catchy tunes and fun-loving animations, plus rewards.

All Aquafresh products are available at leading supermarkets and pharmacy outlets. The App can be downloaded free from iTunes.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post which means that the products we received are sponsored, and my little reviewers will actually be making some money bringing you this. As our practice, we have reviewed the products in a manner as honestly as possible. All opinions here are our own.

P/S: I know the kids may have gone a little overboard with the excessive 4 times a day brushing, but they take their reviewing job very seriously. 

(Self) Examination Getting all sentimental now Nat Kao Parenting 101 What to Expect... As a Mother

The last feed ever

December 20, 2014
Nat_Turning 3

Nat turning three in Feb

Warning: this is a post about boobs and breastfeeding

About a month ago, I stopped nursing Nat. He turns 3 years old in two months, so I guess I breastfed my youngest on demand, water-cooler style, for two years and ten months.

It didn’t happen just like that. I have been struggling to stop. have been hoping to nurse him for a long while more. Yes, you heard that right. I was the one who couldn’t let go.

After he turned two, I have been repeatedly telling him that he’s now a big boy and he should start drinking from the bottle. He’s been extremely dependent on those boobies (mine, of course) to calm him, soothe him and help him fall asleep. I also have been repeatedly chided by the older folks in my life who would give me the biggest scrunch on their faces when they heard he was still nursing. They would warn me to stop and put images of a six-year-old Nat walking up to me demanding to be nursed in my head and instill the fear in me that if I didn’t try to stop him from latching, I never will.

And so I did. Believe me, I tried staying away and not tucking him in, applying essential oils on his milk source and putting a huge bolster in between us. And every time he cried my heart would shatter into a million pieces.

And every time he said “Mama Milk so spicy, GO AWAY MAMA”, I would burst into tears and feel the wrench in my heart that gave me even greater resolve NOT to stop breastfeeding.

He is my last baby, you know. And the miracle of motherhood is that first feeling of exhilaration of being able to produce milk for the child born of your loins. And continue doing so as often as he wants or as much as you can. I liked that feeling very much, and the thought that he’s the last one makes me want to savour every minute of the exhilaration for as long as possible.

So Nat and I. We constantly did the “Ok, you’re a big boy now so no more Mama Milk” thing and the “Mama missed you so bad, come let me feed you some milk”  dance on alternate days for another ten months from the time he turned two, and whilst it was fun, he was going to be turning three.

And the images of a six-year-old Nat walking up to me demanding to be nursed started to frighten me more often than usual, and I thought I’d better have a talk with Nat before he turned three.

So for many nights in November, we started dreaming up his third birthday party and singing songs, and that was how I put him to bed nightly – yes, without the boobs. He would tell me he wants a Ninja Turtle cake one night, and then a triceratops on another, a Diego cake on another, and yak about his favourite things, and then sing himself birthday songs in English and Mandarin.

I guess doing this every night for a while made him realise he was a big boy. He didn’t even noticed he didn’t need to nurse to fall asleep.

And just like that, I didn’t even know when that was, I did my last feed on my last feed.

And just like that, this boy just hugs Mama after his Milo in a bottle, says his prayer and falls asleep.

And just like that, the boobies stopped milk production and there was no more supply.

Last afternoon, feeling a little sentimental, I offered Nat my boobs instead of his bottle.

Me: You want Mama Milk? (he fondly says this when he wants to be nursed)

Nat: Em, nope!

Me: Why? Come la, try!

Nat: Mama has no more milk. Last time I try. No more.

Me: Oh no. Mama has no more milk. Mama’s so sad. Mama has no more baby.

Nat: You lend other people’s baby la, Mama. (He meant borrow people’s baby to drink my milk!)

Me: Other people’s babies drink their own mother’s milk, dear. Where’s my baby?

Nat: No more baby.

Me: Then what are you? You’re Mama’s what?

Nat: I’m a boy.

Yep, my last feed was really my last feed ever. And just like that, this boy is sure he doesn’t want Mama Milk anymore.

Nat and Mama on the Carousel

Nat, my big boy

(Self) Examination Parenting 101 The Kao Kids

Reflections of a frazzledyellingimpatientbusyhelicopter Mom

October 14, 2014

It’s been really busy on the work front, now that I’ve started working. You know the thing about being a work-from-home run-around-everywhere-when-you-need-to + full-time-mom-that-still-needs-to-ferry-everyone-around + run-a-business kind of mom is that she’s still a mom, and there are three little humans still needing her very much. The Kao kids are seeing me less – or rather, seeing me in front of the computer whenever I am home more, and I am trying every day to make the best of my time whenever I am with them.

This can sometimes go south very quickly, because depending on my mood (flustered, foul and jittery, usually) and the length of my to-do lists, I sometimes end up correcting behaviour and piling expectations, complete with hollering from needing to undo all the wrong behaviour and habits that they managed to pick up or slip back into whenever I am not around, instead of making good use of our time together to affirm, motivate and encourage.

Yes, yes. I have been helicopter mom (hovering, hovering, hovering) for sometime now, if you didn’t already know.

I know that if poor behaviour from my children manifests whenever I am not around, then the proper attitude was never learned in the first place. It takes lots of filling up love tanks and nurturing the relationship to get the kids to do right. And sometimes, hard-pressed for time as I am, I often choose the easier route – to scold, to blame, to instill fear through yelling – instead of bending down, looking at them in the eye, and correcting them as a loving mother should.

I’m not sure if it’s really because my kids are getting naughtier, wilder and more disobedient, or if it’s because I haven’t been pouring much to fill up their love tanks. If I were to do some reflective thinking here, it’s definitely the latter.

And as I am writing this post in the dead of the night while the whole house sleeps (which happens to be the time I start work on most days), I’m wishing that I did more things right today. As I wish for every night.

Like giving more hugs…

Saying kinder words…

Dishing out more patience…

Making more eye contact…

Having more self-control…

Being more present in every way possible…

And every night as I tuck my babies in bed and endure a full night of farts and kungfu fighting and water-cooler-turn-on-tap-nursing and talking in their sleep and sneezing and snoring and sleepwalking (yes, all of these happen!) while being in the same room as them, I sigh to these children and myself, and say:

Mama will be a better Mama for you tomorrow than today.

Motherhood quote

Milestones and growing up Nat Kao Parenting 101 The darndest kid quotes and antics What to Expect... As a Mother

Goodbye Spiderman, Hello (Cast) Iron Man

October 2, 2014

It was a busy day for me. I was out and about, on my feet and in the car, settling paper work and fixing administrative matters for the business in between ferrying children to kindergarten, picking them up, getting them ready for their piano lesson, plus squeezing in a two-hour private tutoring class for someone who urgently needed my help.

By the time I returned home for good without scooting off again, it was 7.30pm. I was greeted with restless children, and I swear I wasn’t hallucinating when I say they were so restless to the point they were climbing walls.

They didn’t get their movement fix that day. It was school, home, tv, toys and one another. The littlest (since he didn’t go to school) seemed the most deprived. They all looked like they needed to move around more freely beyond the confines of our humble five-room flat. After their father emerged from the study (he too was holed up in the room finishing up work), I told him that the kids needed to run, climb, jump and release the monkey trapped in their human bodies, and that he needed to bring them to the playground to do so.

The Kao kids and Fatherkao came home shortly after their playground play and I was instructed to prepare to go to the A&E immediately. Apparently, Spiderman happened, and Spiderman fell. And Spiderman, who would usually rebound quickly after a fall couldn’t grip anything with his right hand and had a trembling right arm. Spiderman was in pain, and we suspected he might have fractured his arm after falling from a climb.

If you know Nat, you would also have met Spiderman.

So four x-rays and two consultations with a junior A&E doctor later, we were told that he might have just sprained his arm and suffered a hairline fracture.

Sounds good, I thought. This boy would recover in no time.

Our night at the A&E ended up with Nat returning home in a sling. He only cried once when the doctor examined his arm and pressed at the place of injury!

Our night at the A&E ended up with Nat returning home in a sling. He only cried once when the doctor examined his arm and pressed at the place of injury!

Then we made an appointment to see our orthopaedic specialist the day after (who also saw Fatherkao through his multiple-fractured right leg in 2010) and he totally frightened me after examining Nat when he said he had sustained a crack on his right humerus (complete with swelling) and that he needed a cast for two weeks, and I was all ready to bawl my eyeballs out and ban anything Spiderman would be planning to do from now on in the house.

The orthopaedic specialist was impressed by how he endured what he thought would be great pain for a two-year-old. This boy is such a trooper. He didn't even wince and held his arm so still when it was being wrapped!

The orthopaedic specialist was impressed by how he endured what he thought would be great pain for a two-year-old. This boy was such a trooper. He didn’t even wince once and held his arm so still when it was being wrapped!

But this boy, apparently, has made other career plans.

With his cast (which is so, so, so hard by the way), he’s declared himself Ninja Turtle…

Ninja Turtles have hard shells, he says. And his cast is his hard shell.

Ninja Turtles have hard shells, he says. And his cast is his hard shell.

And Iron Man…

The cast is part of the Iron Man armour, and so it looks

The cast is part of the Iron Man armour, and so it looks

And hasn’t stopped for a minute to wince and moan or cry and complain about any pain or discomfort.

It’s business as usual, and nothing’s gonna stop all that climbing, jumping and bouncing. I guess what’s assuring now is that with his “armour” and “shell” on him now, I would never have to worry that he would end up breaking a bone if he fell again (on the same arm). In fact, we all have to careful of him now – because his cast can be used as a weapon which could injure all of us instead!

Ben Kao Milestones and growing up Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training

Diaper-FREE, totally!

September 20, 2014

I’m celebrating a huge, huge milestone today.

Ben, my five-and-a-half-year-old firstborn, has gone without diapers at night for 2 weeks successfully now. That meant that the last time he wore one was, well, really his last time.

I know in terms of milestones, my boy’s hitting it a little late. I’ve got close friends and fellow moms I know whose sons and daughters have gone without their diapers since three or four years old. Their kids, I hear, would just magically shed their diapers and not pass a drop of wee at night. Either that or possess this amazing ability to sleepwalk to the toilet, do their business, and go back to bed without waking a single soul.

As a mom, these stories inspire me, and tempts me to pressure my son into performing to my expectations. And then I read somewhere that pressure might totally backfire on me, and I decided to take a more nurturing approach to this.

So, when it came to toilet training at night, I embraced only ONE principle. I tell my son, “Only when you’re ready, kid.”

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t try to get him ready. Since a year ago, I switched those night velcro diapers to pull-up pants and attempted to brainwash Ben to think they were underwear. Every night when I put on those pants diapers for him, I would nag him to remember and imagine that he was still wearing his underwear, and he could wake up, pull these “underwear” down and do a wee like he did in the day.

Who was I kidding? The brainwashing wasn’t successful a single bit. And every night he would still pee in those “underwear”.

Then I came up with a reward system. For every dry diaper I get in the morning, he would get a ‘good-job’ sticker. I told him if he could get 3 within a month, he would be found at the toy store to pick a reward for himself.

Epic fail again there, that one. Every morning, his diaper was so wet and full you could ball it up and use it to strike 10 bowling pins in an alley.

I’ve also tried waking him up to do a wee at midnight. That usually meant he would have had three hours of rest before being awakened. Well, let’s just say I wouldn’t wish to subject myself to such a torture, because he would get so upset he would start crying.

Which meant that the other two would have their sleep disturbed as well if Ben started crying. If Nat was disturbed, I ended up having to nurse him again to calm him. If Becks got rudely awakened in her sleep, oh, God help us all. She would be even more difficult to placate because she would scream the house down and get started with those unstoppable leg-kicking.

Goddamit. I was the one who got no sleep with this midnight-do-a-pee business.

So for a while, I forgot about the whole night toilet training business, and it was, forget it, let’s not stress it. 

I still encourage him to try going without his night diaper once in a while. And whenever I got resistance from him, I’d say, “It’s ok, son. Don’t worry. Try when you want to try.”

And them suddenly, five months shy of his 6th birthday, Ben says he doesn’t want to wear those pull-ups anymore. Suddenly, his stomach had the capacity to take in more food during dinner – which meant he didn’t need to drink milk before he slept. Suddenly, he was able to exercise self-control in not drinking water after 8pm. And just so suddenly, he was mature enough to shake off those emotions that came along with discomfort and wake up at midnight to do a wee without a whine.

And he was ready.

Ready in every sense of the word. Ready to take on this challenge like a big boy. Ready to show the world that he’s a champ.

I’m so glad we didn’t pressure him or make demands. And now he gets to share this pride and sense of accomplishment which would otherwise be lost if we hurried him.

So proud of you, my son. Tis’ a big, big milestone for a big, big boy!

Ben at Five

Going Out! Happy days Holidays! Milestones and growing up Parenting 101 The Kao Kids

Our many firsts at Berakit’s Bukau Lodge, Indonesia

August 29, 2014

Over the National Day weekend, we did the most un-patriotic thing. We left the country and scooted away to a place where no wi-fi was available and only human connections were allowed, and where sunshine, sand, sea and seafood were abundant.

And no, we didn’t go for a beach holiday at the finest of resort destinations. We went back to nature, back to the basics and back to simplicity – at a kelong in this place called Berakit, about 25 km away from Bintan Island in Indonesia.

I’ve always wanted to have the kids rough it out and experience what it’s like to remove ourselves from city-living, and this trip would be the first of the many to come. Before the kids came, the husband and I did a bit of backpacking and we were often amazed to see children backpacking with their parents, on foot, by train and at the youth hostels where we stayed. Those kids were older, of course, but they were tough and resilient. These are kids who will grow up knowing that it’s a big, big world out there and that the world so doesn’t revolve around them. Fatherkao and I have always wished as a couple to do this one thing with our kids this side of heaven, and that is “to suck out all the marrow of life” as Henry David Thoreau aptly puts, and get them to go out and explore the world.

So.

I’ve always wanted Ben, Becks and Nat to have a live-in-the-middle-of-the-sea-on-a-kelong kind of experience, which Fatherkao and I have had the pleasure of experiencing on several occasions before the kids came. It was an experience, I felt, that any person living should have in his or her memory bank, like a ‘been there, done that’ kind of thing to boast about someday when you are old.

Blast from the past: this was us in 2006

Blast from the past: this was us in 2006

With our friends, with whom we had such a great time with in this kelong in Sibu Island

With our friends, with whom we had such a great time with in this kelong in Sibu Island

And so to Bukau Lodge at Berakit we went, where we experienced many FIRSTS together as a family. Our friend and his wife built an extension-lodge to an existing fish-rearing kelong in Berakit some time back which was meant to accommodate family, friends and dive groups, so we followed them out to sea on their speedboat for a 3-day-2-night trip.

To the kelong we go

To the kelong we go!

Bukau Lodge

Bukau Lodge

We had such a blast, and I know for years to come, we will continue to talk about our first kelong trip with much, much fondness.

Here goes, our ten FIRSTS being at Bukau Lodge, Berakit, Indonesia:

1. First speedboat ride

To get to our destination, we hopped onto ‘Hannah and Hazel’, our friends’ boat christened after their daughters, two of the sweetest girls I’ve ever known. It was an incredibly long ride (about 4 hours there, and 4 hours back), and I was worried the kids would get seasick travelling so long on the boat. But at the speed we were going, motion sickness was nearly impossible. It just constantly felt like the operator operating a theme park’s ultimate roller coaster ride refusing to let you out and making the roller coaster go on repeat mode. For the unpredictable thrill factor, I say the sea’s better than a roller coaster anytime. And surprise, surprise, the kids actually fell asleep the moment the boat started moving off, in spite of the crashing waves.

These are tough kids, I tell you. Complaining not even one single time being on the speedboat, which can be quite scary at times!

These are tough kids, I tell you. Complaining not even one single time being on the speedboat, which can be quite scary at times!

What an experience being so close to the sea indeed. We even saw jumping fish, which was altogether breathtaking.

2. First balancing act

We're in a kelong, and there's water everywhere

We’re in a kelong, and there’s water everywhere

So it’s a kelong afterall. Which is actually a Malay word describing an offshore platform built predominantly on, yea, you guessed it, wood. The entire kelong is fashioned out of wooden planks and poles, and so at any point, walking around the place felt like you constantly have to remember to walk properly – and keep your balance – because you don’t want to have the giant tiger groupers chomp you up or be pinch material for the lobsters, depending on which pool of water you fall into. Plus, the sea is all around us, and as we’ve discovered (see #3), there’s no ground to touch if you’d ever fall in like you would in a pool.

This was the tiger grouper pool which was teeming with groupers 10 to 15 kg, I hear. They eat up all our discarded food waste, and can chomp down the hardest bones and toughest fruit. Like Becks' apple which accidentally fell in.

This was the tiger grouper pool which was teeming with groupers 10 to 15 kg, I hear. They eat up all our discarded food waste, and can chomp down the hardest bones and toughest fruit. Like Becks’ apple which accidentally fell in.

My kids can’t swim by the way, so you can imagine this mad mother constantly screaming and nagging her kids not to run, push or monkey around.

But it’s a whole new experience altogether – walking deliberately and carefully, every minute we were there. How’s that for really slowing down?

Gives a whole new meaning to 'balanced and barefoot'

Gives a whole new meaning to ‘balanced and barefoot’

3. First plunge into the deep blue sea

The kids have yet to learn to swim. They have been waddling, waddling, waddling, like little ducklings on floats in swimming pools. I have tried getting them used to being in water for close to a year now, so they are happy to be in chlorinated water or warm bath tubs if you throw them in.

But the sea. It was nothing they had expected. It was nothing I had expected.

The platform where we all took the plunge

The platform where we all took the plunge

The first day we were there we swam in front of the lodge with a group of adults and children (our couple friends’ extended family members, whom we had the pleasure of meeting – there were 14 of us adults in all, and 7 kids), and while it was an exciting thought to be jumping into the sea with so many people, we so didn’t prepare for the strong winds and currents that came, which meant that no matter how hard you swim, you would still be at the same place.

We had some drama that afternoon, with Ben’s float suddenly deflating (and thank God we found that out before he jumped in), Becks’ life jacket floating up which meant she was getting no buoyancy due to the strong currents, and Nat refusing to let go of my neck which meant he was strangling me while I treaded water furiously looking for something I could hold on to for dear life. All these happened while I was trying to swim to my daughter, forgetting completely about my  drifting eldest son and being gripped in the neck by my youngest. And Fatherkao wasn’t even in the sea yet as he needed to keep his camera. Thank God we went with one bunch of fun-loving people who were seaworthy and extremely strong swimmers, and all the uncles and aunties came to help with our kids. We didn’t swim long in that strong current, and ended up making friends with everyone instead over hot milo and snacks after that ordeal.

4. First swim-with-fish experience

So you would have thought we gave up the idea of swimming in the sea. I thought I would too, until my friend said she’d replicate an ‘Adventure Cove’ experience without the strong currents for us.

Here in this “pool”:

Fish "pond" protected from waves and currents

Fish “pond” protected from waves and currents

So we thought, Well, it’s netted, it’s going to protect us from strong currents, why not? and we jumped in. We didn’t manage to snorkel but we did put our head in with goggles and saw some fish swimming around and all.

Totally awesome, still.

Nat and Becks were too frightened after the open water experience, so we swam with other children and Ben instead!

Nat and Becks were too frightened after the open water experience, so we swam with other children and Ben instead!

It was only when we got up and looked down into this pool of seawater had we realised – holy smoke’ – we were swimming with friggin’ huge-ass mamas and a sea turtle. I so should have brought or borrowed a snorkel!

No ordinary fish pond

No ordinary fish pond

5. First poo-watch

Clean water for bathing from the tap, and a toilet bowl for small and big business!

Clean water for bathing from the tap, and a toilet bowl for small and big businesses!

There was no flush in the toilets. Why would you need one in a kelong?

Clearly, the showtimes for fish feeding was whenever anyone was done pooping. We didn’t manage to catch every show, but we did catch the one with Ben’s poop one morning because he had made a loud announcement that he needed to move his bowels.

I bet he now knows that the way to avoid a crowd waiting near the toilet is not to say anything. Hurhurhur.

6. First bat watch

I have never seen bats fly, and even more so seen so many bats fly from their roosting place and disperse. Apparently, the desolate, uninhabited island near the kelong was a roosting place for bat colonies, and we were told that at 7pm sharp, there would be bats in the sky. I was half expecting some cute little creatures flapping their wings but to my horror they were as huge-ass as the fish we swam with in the day and it was a full-moon night. Gives freaking out a whole new meaning (and bringing back memories of all the Gothic Literature I did in JC), but fortunately for us, we were assured that they never congregated at the kelong.

Would drive me batshitcrazy for sure, if they did.

We didn't manage to capture the bats at dusk but my husband took this awesome picture of the night view from the kelong. This is unfiltered and unedited. Gorgeousness.

We didn’t manage to capture the bats at dusk but my husband took this awesome picture of the night view from the kelong. This is unfiltered and unedited.
Gorgeousness.

7. First fish from the sea

I’m not a fan of fishing. Before this trip I had thought fishing was all sitting by the lake for hours feeding mosquitoes. Until our friend’s uncles showed us how much fish that can be caught just by throwing a line from the kelong. These men were reeling in pail after pail of fish whenever they cast their lines, and that thrilled the kids much.

And this was how much that could be fished on a morning the boat took the fishing enthusiasts out deep sea

And this was how much that could be fished on a morning the boat took the fishing enthusiasts out deep sea

It poured heavily on the second day we were there, and there was this peaceful, tranquil calm after the storm. Which meant only one thing for the fishermen in our midst: deep-sea fishing. We tagged along in the drizzle and watched as the fishing enthusiasts reeled in barracudas, sail fish, mackerels and groupers. Ben and Fatherkao tried their hand at fishing while I minded the other two, and they managed to reel in one I-dunno-what-fish which we ate for lunch the next day.

8. First rainbow of our lives

The kids have never seen a rainbow. They’ve heard me sing ‘The Rainbow Connection’ many times and are familiar with the story of God’s promise of a rainbow after the Great Flood, but that’s pretty much it.

And how He must have loved us all so, because while we were out deep sea fishing, this – this was what we witnessed right before our eyes.

This picture, taken with our friend's phone, will never ever do the view we had justice. The rainbow was beautifully arched, clear in all its colour, and set against the backdrop of a beautiful horizon

This picture, taken with a phone camera, will never ever do the view we had justice.
The rainbow was beautifully arched, clear in all its colours, and set against the backdrop of a beautiful horizon

We witnessed this for the first time as a family. How magnificently awesome is our God.

9. First FRESHEST seafood dining experience

How fresh can seafood get when all you have to do is goreng and steam what has just been caught! We’ve had the freshest of fish for those three days, and even had the tiger grouper the kelong was rearing for steamboat dinner. The kelong sells this special breed of  groupers to restaurants and a wide Chinese clientele, but offered us a special rate – so we even carted two 5-kg fresh groupers home on our last day!

Catching our dinner

Catching our dinner

Waiting for the fish to put in the steamboat!

Waiting for the fish to put in the steamboat!

So the kids had chicken wings and bbq-ed marshmellows while waiting

So the kids feasted on chicken wings and grilled marshmellows after the steamboat

The tides were low the following morning and our friend went picking crabs - which meant we had steamed crabs for breakfast!

The tides were low the following morning and our friend went picking crabs – which meant we had steamed crabs for breakfast!

10. First time on a private beach

Just 5 minutes away on a sampan lies this pristine private beach, which was the highlight of our kelong trip. The sand was soft and moist, totally perfect for some thorough exfoliating (free spa!), and the waters were oh-so crystal clear. We spent hours lazing there, sitting by the beach, watching the waves and soaking in the sun, sand, sea. The kids built sandcastles, picked corals and seashells, skipped pebbles and chased little fish.

We were there on Day 2 and Day 3, and we always wished we didn’t have to leave. And when we finally did, we were totally sunkissed.

Picture-perfect on a perfect beach

Picture-perfect on a perfect beach

How much fun took place while we were there? Enough for the kids to ask when we are going back again!

How much fun took place while we were there? Enough for the kids to ask when we are going back again!

So much to do with sand!

So much to do with sand!

~~~

Those three days we lived deep. No phones. No TV. No iPads.

We were at sea. We looked out to sea.

Where the horizon was, there was the sky. We looked out to sky.

The view from the lodge was always changing – when it rained, when night fell, when the winds blew, when the clouds moved – and it was always, always gorgeously awe-inspiring.

What a view in the morning

What a view in the morning

Those three days we relaxed and rested. No fuss. No anxiety. No heaviness. We returned home refreshed, and with so much gratitude in our hearts for being with wonderful people and having a wonderful God who created wonderful things.

I can't put a word to this, but we felt a huge sense of happiness being there.

Refreshed and ready for home: I can’t put a word to this, but we felt a comforting sense of happiness being there those 3 days

Bukau Lodge, we’ll be back.

~~~

P/S: If you’re curious how we bunked as a family, we stayed in a private room like this. But in the kelong, everything is pretty much communal and we left our door and windows wide open while we slept, with the wind in our face, literally. Shiok.

The room in Bukau Lodge

The rooms in Bukau Lodge

(Self) Examination Milestones and growing up Parenting 101 Re: learning and child training The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

Parenting at 5, 3-half and 2 (Part 2)

June 9, 2014

It’s incredible what parenting does to you. You can feel a host of extreme emotions – like that of guilt and elation, anger and love, and fatigue and enthusiasm – all on the same day, and sometimes, almost at the same time.

That’s what parenting my 5-year-old Ben, 3-turning-4 Becks and 2-year-old Nat is doing to me.

My littlest exasperates every single day. Without fail. With his mischief and antics. Like sticking the Yakult straw in his ear and wailing non stop for ten minutes in shock and pain. Or aiming his p-part at me to do a wee on me like a rain shower while I bathe him. Or picking things up from the garbage and stuffing his mouth silly with whatever he thinks is edible and having me chase him around the house to stop him. I always feel I have a combo Speedy Gonazales, Tazmanian Devil and Bart Simpson on the loose with him.

Some people whom I recently met commented I’ve lost quite a lot of weight. I think I lost them all by sighing a hundred times a day and chasing after Nat who is thinking up mischief every waking minute of his life.

Hunky Nat

But he is also, at two years of age, the most endearing child of the three. He cries for you, laughs with you, hugs you with no restraints, and tries with all he has to bring a smile across your face. You can ask for a hug or ten kisses and you get them, with no questions asked. His clingy-ness is unbearable on days when I am exhausted but incredibly heartwarming despite that tiredness.

Sporty Nat

This is my boy at two.

***

His brother, on the other hand, is growing up a little faster than I had prepared myself for. But who am I kidding? I don’t think any mother is prepared for her child to grow up.

Ben is now often immersed in his own little world, talking and pretend playing with himself, his animal figurines, his Transformers and Lego people. His vocabulary is extensive, often a close imitation and mish mash of what he hears the adults say. He is sensitive and shows his emotions freely, and is now more a person who is eager to please and to be accepted.

It’s all about solving his own problems, working things out by himself and trying his best with him now.

Yea, that’s my eldest. My firstborn. My big darling that’s going through this phase of self-discovery right now.

Sporty Ben

***

The little girl. Ah, my princess. The one who is getting more girly as days pass. She now wants long hair. She loves dresses. She adores having hair clips and hair ties on her hair and pesters me to comb her hair every day. She has ‘babies’ and loves to play mommy. She even hides in a corner to nurse them, feed them and talk to them.

Yes, this little girl. I don’t know what happened to that tomboy.

Princess Becks

Becks is turning 4 next month and is looking quite the stunner with those pretty big eyes and icy smile. Every day, she’s discovering a whole new world and learning what it means to be her own person in it; complete with learning how to handle – and control – her emotions and tantrums. She’s learning that she’s not two anymore, and we’re not going to be accepting bratty hissy fits like we used to put up with when she was in her Terrible Twos. As she begins to understand what is expected of her as she grows up, my darling girl is also blossoming beautifully – both inside and outside.

My little girl Becks

***

We’re not so much done with growing pains and this is very much the beginning. I’m learning too that my life, as a mother and a person, must not and should not stop as I parent these children, and that I too, must grow, learn, unlearn and relearn to always be appropriate – as opposed to being redundant – in their lives.

The Kao Kids

(Self) Examination Parenting 101 Thunderstorm days

Confessions of a faithful mother

May 23, 2014

“My children shall be taught of the Lord and great shall be their peace.”

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

” Christ in me is the hope of glory.”

Devotional poster_God's promises

P/S: It has been amazing journey blogging and sharing my motherhood with you. After my last post was published (the one about the kids thinking I’m not great), I was overwhelmed to receive your messages, emails and love (you know who you all are). Many of you shared with me how you went through the same thing, how you coped, how you survived. And so many of you wrote me verses to encourage me and remind me that God is faithful and will be with us despite this journey being challenging and arduous. I’m so glad we can learn and lean on one another this way, and even more grateful to be at the receiving end of many kind words.

I’ve compiled something to remind myself to speak aloud everyday as my confession of faith, inspired by all the people who sent verses my way!

I ♥ lists Milestones and growing up Parenting 101 The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

The A-Z Guide to staying home

May 13, 2014

This is the second year I’m staying home and it’s been nothing but crazy still. Many people have asked me how I survive on a daily basis, and what my secret is. I wish I could say vodka, but heh no, I don’t drink and have yet to give that to my kids to knock them out.

Although that’s a really tempting thought on really insane days.

Well, I’m still surviving (but barely breathing!) and I’m joining The Gingerbread Mum‘s blog train where she invited 31 stay-home moms to share their survival tips – one mom for each day for the month of May.

So here’s my very own tips – from A-Z – featuring all the things I do / use / need to make it through the madness. There’s no secret, really, but I hope some things in this list can help you make it through each day as they have helped me make it through mine.

You’re welcome.

Motherkao’s A-Z Guide to Staying Home: things you will need and places you must go

Activity books

Activity books can keep young children occupied for quite a while; even the littlest would colour away happily whenever he gets one. Value for money, and great investment in exchange for at least 5 minutes of silence (and longer if the kid is older). You can get these for less than $4 at fairs and mobile booths in shopping malls

I keep the kids iPad and iPhone-free with these

I keep the kids iPad and iPhone-free with these

Balloons

Believe it or not, I buy balloons from the party section in the supermarket. I buy many packets and use balloons to distract the littlest and to break up fights. I get the kids to choose a colour and they love to watch in anticipation while I blow each balloon, one by one, and then I make them volley the balloons and chase them. And while they do that, I can catch a shut-eye for a minute at least.

Chocolates

I stash a few boxes of After Eight in the fridge and sneak a few pieces in my mouth whenever I feel I’m losing it. You already know chocolates are a great cure for depression and insanity, right?

Disney Junior

Channel 311 on Starhub TV, oh, that’s a godsend babysitter. The kids like almost everything on it, from Doc McStuffins and Sophia the First to Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. Now that we’re without a helper, this channel gives me my toilet break and some me-time in the shower. For another awesome babysitter recommendation, refer to the Letter N.

Espresso machine

One of the best things in our kitchen and worth every single cent we sunk in. Think the smell of coffee filling the air in the mornings and freshly brewed lattes that are kind to the stomach. I’ve said goodbye to 3-in-1 and its horrible aftertaste forever since we bought one. If coffee makes you happy, consider investing. We use a Philips Saeco.

Foot rubs

I don’t get to go for these anymore at those koyok-smelling places in the heartlands. No time, no money to buy packages anyway. But I give myself these rubs on my feet once in a while with nice smelling essential oils for a perk-me-up. FYI: your two big toes are connected to your cerebrum so remember to rub hard and press in when you think you’re losing your head.

Grapes

Best.fruit.ever. to give to kids. No need to cut, no need to wash plates or utensils. Just give them a good rinse with skin on and kids get vitamins, fibre and natural sugar.

Husband!

This word deserves a thousand exclamation marks if space allows. He’s your tag-team partner and the one who has to bear all your complaints after a hard day of you staying home. Be nice to him (so he’ll be ready to listen and empathise), always ask how his day was first, and squeeze his shoulders for a bit before you unload.

H is for Husband, the best tag-team partner ever

H is for Husband, the best tag-team partner ever

Ikea’s Småland

Ever since Nat can enter this place (he’s finally 92cm!), I’ve been going there at least once a month to “deposit” the kids while I get at least one hour of me-time and some coffee. Sometimes, I bring a friend who brings her kids and both of us get some adult conversations while the kids play. The best part of this all: IT’S FREE!

Juice

Best “distracting” beverage for the kids – I pour this out a lot whenever they whine for something sweet or I have to throw away candies from goodie bags they get from school. I exaggerate the number of fruits / veggies that they can taste from one sip of the juice – blueberries! grapes! carrots! peaches! apples! – even though it’s usually ‘Mixed Berries’ that they drink (two 1-litre packs for $3.95 from Marigold) and the kids start salivating. Add some ice cubes to make it like a treat! Works wonders every time!

Kdramas

This keeps me going when the going gets rough: the thought of being able to catch one episode – any episode – of something from kdramaland with enough hotness in it after the kids are in bed (Lee Min-ho, I’m looking at you!). Many sites have come, and gone – and failed me – but I’ve found DramaGo and DramaFire to be the most stable for now.

Cannot miss the chance to put a picture of HOT on my blog like a crazy fan girl

Cannot miss the chance to put a picture of HOTNESS on my blog like a crazed fan girl

Library

Place to go where you don’t have to put the books back and organise them by genres (me to OCD self). Place to go when you need to escape from sweltering heat. Place to go so kids can be awed by just how many books there are and to sit comfortably to read. Best place to visit during the school holidays to keep kids occupied.

Mom rules

I have these rules for myself to follow as much as I can. They guide me in the day-to-day handling of the kids and my role as their mother.

Mom rules

Nick Junior

Channel 304! Another terrific babysitter. My kids love this more than the one you read about at the Letter D. I find this channel more educational, slower in pace of moving images, and more engaging. I do still try to limit TV time (but it’s becoming increasingly tough these 2 weeks with no helper) but I really wouldn’t mind them catching the 15-minute segments of the many good shows on this channel – Go, Diego, Go!, Dora the Explorer, Bubble Guppies, Wonder Pets and Ni Hao Kai Lan.

One-pot meals

These help me save time and yet give the kids a meal. I throw frozen prawns, frozen corn and canned pineapples with pineapple rice paste in the rice cooker and we get pineapple rice for dinner. I throw some ribs and lotus in the slow cooker and we get soup. I put in chicken, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms and we get stew. Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

Playground

When I see the kids getting restless and sense that they need to expend their energy a little, I head on down to the nearest neighbourhood playground. Now that the kids are older, I leave them to play and climb and run while I sit and stone on the bench. Keeps me sane in the evenings too.

Quiet time

Now with the Bible app on my phone, I read the verse of the day and meditate on it throughout the day. For me, it really is crucial to spend time praying. Like the saying goes, prayer IS really the best way to draw strength from heaven.

Running Man

Ooooh! I am addicted to this, and like what you’d read while at the Letter K, the thought of being able to unwind with this after the kids go to bed keeps me going when the going gets tough. On particularly bad days, I find myself needing to watch this to have a good laugh before I sleep. I laugh out loud heartily (this variety show is just TOO funny!), release all the tension of the day, and when I finally feel that the stress is all gone, I go to sleep happy. Running Man *Hwaiting!* !

I catch my Running Man episodes here

I catch my Running Man episodes here

Singapore Mom Bloggers

I belong to this wonderful closed group called Singapore Mom Bloggers and we have meaningful virtual connections and friendships online. I share and rant there, and seek advice a lot from the mothers in the group, and having these moms as my friends keeps me sane on crazy stay-home days.

Terminal 3

If the kids need space to run; if you need a decent place to eat out on weekends but don’t want to queue for that long (compared to places in town); if you need to dream of a holiday; if your kids want to be monkeys without you being judged, head on down to Terminal 3. This is our place to go on weekends; and my kids monkey around at the viewing gallery together with many other kids while the parents look out at planes and plan their next getaway.

Updates

I have stopped feeling guilty of scrolling my phone to check status updates on FB and Instagram. Why, I need to connect with people too, I face the kids almost 24/7, y’unno.

Verbal diarrhea

Known fact: women de-stress by talking. Talking helps them connect. Talking helps them unwind. So talk. Talk to husband. Talk to children. Talk to children’s stuffed toys. Talk to children’s school teachers. Talk to furniture. Talk to self. Talk to cleaners, pump attendants, service staff at restaurants and cashiers. TALK. It ALWAYS makes you feel better. Just make sure you won’t have to put your foot in your mouth while at that.

Water play

For hot days. For days they refuse to get in the bath. For days when I need 15 minutes to chill with a cup of tea. I turn on a trickle, throw in lots of plastic cups, bottles, bottle caps, and pails and get them to play while I sit outside the toilet with my cup of tea and watch them. Fun at a small price, and will certainly continue if PUB doesn’t increase our utility fees.

Or places like these also can:

Free fountain fun at Greenwich V

Free fountain fun at Greenwich V

Xerox-ing

Having a printer that can photocopy is extremely helpful. I zap things for the kids to do again and again, like their favourite colouring pages and activity mazes. If you own one of those Grolier Logico sets, the back of each card has an activity which you can xerox for the kids to try.

Young Living’s Essential oils

I’ve tried essential oils from Young Living for close to 6 months now and I am one happy convert. I oil the kids’ soles – and mine and Fatherkao’s – religiously and use the oils for various ailments and aches. They work great for me, by the way, especially Peace & Calming, which soothes me much after a tiring day with the kids.

Zoo (and the River Safari)

Our two default places to go if the weather is good and I have energy (the River Safari is fully sheltered, by the way). These two places never fail to thrill the Kao kids, and they just love the idea of being there looking at animals. Favourite hangouts: Frozen Tundra, Giant Pandas’ Den and Rainforest Kidz World. Oh yes, I’ve calculated that the zoo family membership is worth it if you visit at least 6 times a year. And also, this is the place to go during the school holidays if you’ve run out of things to do.

Z is fo Zoo

Love the cool at Kai Kai and Jia Jia’s den at the River Safari

There you have it, a list from A to Z! My favourites are the letters H, K and R. What are yours?

~~~

The next mom on the blog train is Summer, who blogs at A Happy MumSummer is a media executive turned SAHM from Singapore who stepped into the gratifying journey of motherhood during her four-year stay in Sweden. It was then she realised that this was her destiny all along and she is now the mother of two lovely girls. She believes that contentment is bliss and that happiness is about making the best of what you have. A Happy Mum is a place where she blogs about motherhood, babies, love, DIY crafts, travelling and all things happy. Join her tomorrow as she shares a heartfelt post on how she maintains her emotional well-being as a SAHM.

Summer_A Happy Mum

Need more survival tips? Read them all here from all of us on The Gingerbread Mum’s Blog Train! 



This post is part of a blog train hosted by The Gingerbread Mum 
where 31 stay-at-home mums share their survival tips. We hope that you’ll find our tips useful and remember that you’re not alone!

(Self) Examination Becks Kao Ben Kao Family life as we know it Milestones and growing up Nat Kao Parenting 101 The Kao Kids What to Expect... As a Mother

Parenting at 5, 3-half and 2 (Part I)

March 6, 2014

Last month, my sons turned a year older and I’m officially doing this mothering gig with my three kids who are 5, 3.5 and 2.

This means that change is here again.

The 5-year-old is clearly growing up fast and probably has a vocabulary of close to two thousand words. He’s playful still but not as cheekily innocent as he was a few years ago. He’s now got an emo streak and pensive moods, and have been showing signs of being easily hurt and offended. He’s learned the art of argumentation, and has also picked up the skill of being acidulous and sarcastic (why, why, I’m sure he also learned from the best). He has the ability to give you a million and one reasons (and then some more if you allow him to) why he can or cannot do something, something as simple as why he can’t come immediately to brush his teeth or empty his bladder, and would do almost anything from pouting to demonstrating aggression to win an argument. He can fire questions at you fast and furious and has about more than a gazillion ‘whys’ in his head every single day.

Not a day passes without him asking at least 50 questions, giving you a ton of useless reasons as excuses why something happened which is not his fault, and a show of emo-ing, complete with tears and sulking at corners of the house. He learns things fast but is also very selective in what he wants to learn. He’ll cite poor memory as his excuse for not remembering how to spell words you teach him but he can remember every single character in all his favourite TV programmes. He’s an energiser bunny who’s waiting every day to muck around, asking, “What can I do? What can we do?” and looking for someone to play with him.

Ben at 5

On good days, he goes a little wild and says the darndest but most intelligent things that can make you laugh so hard and wonder if you’re with a 5-year-old or 15. He can also have very intense conversations with you, and we have had days of talking about God, heaven, life and the meaning of it all.

On good days, he’s also a wonderful big brother to his siblings and acts with a mature sense of sensibility.

***

The little girl is a July baby so she only turns 4 in 4 months. Although the terrible Terrible Twos which we’ve experienced with her is finally, finally over, we do get the tantrums once in a while especially whenever she’s tired or in discomfort, though the tantrums have evolved to be more muted and controlled. I’m happy to say that Becks is now able to exercise a lot more self control at this age.

Phew.

She’s also at a phase of being really eager to differentiate herself from her siblings. I’m not sure if it comes with being the middle child but she’s demonstrating to us clearly every day that she wants to be different, and to be seen as different. In the past, she would join the games and rough play, and play with much abandonment with them. Lately, she wants to read about the Disney princesses and play with dolls. She’s been asking if I could buy her a Barbie or a princess doll. She would drag her brothers to pretend cook and grocery shop with her, and if they didn’t want to (and preferred to be doing neanderthal-like things like uzzah-ing the house down) then she would go to a corner and be perfectly fine talking to and cooking for her soft toys and her bolsters.

Becks at 3 half

Her ambition for now is to be a mummy. A good mummy, she says. I wonder where she got that inspiration.

***

I’ll be lying to say I don’t have a favourite. When you have more than one kid, you’re bound to have someone who is the apple of your eye.

That said, I don’t play favourites. I don’t pit one sibling against another and bring on the rivalry with any favouritism games. I love them all with all my heart and all that I can in my capacity as their mother and a human being.

So this boy.

Nat at 2

He turned two last month and is starting to talk in sentences it’s just way too cute, cute, cute. The things he says and words he strings together – aww, soooo cute, I tell you – just melts my heart and makes me laugh so heartily everyday. Not a day passes by without bouts of laughing out loud and sides-splitting gaggles filling the house. With Nat, we’ve heard much laughter, and had much laughter.

So while I’m sometimes tearing my hair out at trying to communicate with my firstborn and feeling the frustration of handling the temperamental middle child, the baby – and resident clown – in the house gives me much respite from the parenting weariness of the day. I’m just glad to have only suffered hardship from the Terrible Twos one out of three. I was anticipating and bracing myself for tough times with the littlest who has a mule-like temperament, and while the littlest has his “moments”, it’s been so easy to handle his moments with distractions and lots of hugs and kisses.

I’m really going to miss this stage. And because Nat is Nat, I’m so glad we didn’t decide to stop at two. We can do with more funniness, adorableness, and happiness in this house, methinks.

***

Hello everyone. I’m Motherkao. I have three kids age 5, 3-half and 2 and a new season of parenting is here again. I am bracing myself for the challenges ahead. There’s potty training, meal times routines, sleep training and weaning (yes, 24 months and still going on – ugh!) to settle, ABCs and 123s to teach, words and books to read, songs to sing, stories to tell, games to play and lots of clowning around to do. There’s also fun to be had, skills to teach, values to impart and lives to shape.

In other words, there’s a whole lot of mothering to do.

The Kao Kids Mar2014